Saturday, October 22, 2011

Coming Alive

Took our Humanities scholars to see, or rather listen to, the SSO playing Mahler 7 last night. I'd talked to the students in advance of the need to put effort into listening, bearing in mind that for some of them eighty minutes of Mahler at one go might be some seventy-five minutes too many. But it looked as if they felt it was time well spent. It'll be interesting to harvest some frank views next week.

I'd prepared for the event by listening to the Seventh three or four times over the last couple of weeks. I first heard it live as performed by the Halle some twenty-five years ago and hadn't been terribly impressed then. But that was a case of thwarted expectations. Learning that it had two 'nocturnes' I assumed it was going to be ethereally swoony, and it wasn't because it isn't. But I remember thinking it would be well worth listening to it again (and again) just to get hold of what Mahler was up to. And since I've now made the effort (a little late, but never mind) I rather think I have managed to grasp the essence of what's going on here.

I reckon Mahler was very conscious of a sense of defeating expectations, and that each movement is an approach to a kind of convention of music that he then deconstructs. So there's lots of parody, but this blurs into genuine expressions of feelings in ways that are destabilising, but fascinatingly so.

Anyway, whatever old Gustav was up to, the SSO did him proud. They really sparkled last night.


Kurohi Rei said...

Hi sir,

I've been trying on and off, rather unsuccessfully, to 'get into' classical music, but I've always found myself somewhat at a loss as to where to begin. It was always a little overwhelming and inaccessible because took a little too much effort to appreciate what was going on. So I was wondering if you could perhaps make some recommendations or point me in the right direction?

Trebuchet said...

Hey Mr Connor, apropos of nothing in particular, there is an excellent genuine Russian restaurant at 70 Dunlop Street should you wish to give your favourite chef a treat. The owner's father is the famed local chef Ah Hoi, but it's through his wife he gets the Russian.

Looking elsewhere, I'm sure United will recover, they always do. Take care and enjoy the break that will not be too long in coming!

Brian Connor said...

Many thanks Mr Trebuchet for the heads up on the Ruski grub. And, yes, I'm sure United will recover, at which point I may just watch this evening's game which, fortunately, I contrived not to watch in real time.

In the meantime I'll be considering a little advice on how to get into the classical scene, Rei, and will be posting soon. At least this will help me get my mind off darker matters.